Fascinating Sights Near the City of Aswan in Southern Egypt
August 17, 2020
We visited the city of Aswan on the final day of our trip down the Nile River, which started in Luxor. For the majority of cruises, you can either start or end in Aswan. You can continue going south after visiting Aswan, but we didn’t have the opportunity to do that during our trip to Egypt. It was extremely hot during our time in Aswan, so we took it nice and slow and spent as much time in the shade as we could. These were the highlights of the places and things that we visited before heading to the airport to catch a flight back to Cairo.
The Ancient Granite Quarry – One of the first things we visited when we arrived in Aswan was the northern quarry, which contains an unfinished obelisk. Most of the granite that was used in ancient Egypt was mined from the quarries of Aswan and carried up the Nile on boats. It must have been extremely hard work to mine granite by chipping away at it with other stones. The day that we arrived in Aswan it was 114 degrees Fahrenheit (about 44.5 degrees Celsius), so we can only imagine how difficult it was for the workers in ancient time to carve out the large rocks in order to create the obelisks and other temple pieces.
Philae and the Temple of Isis – We took a boat out to Philae, which is an island with a variety of temples including the Temple of Isis. It was a very interesting site with plenty of things to see and definitely worth a half day to visit. The temples were moved to higher ground after the High Dam was built in order to save them and it was well worth the effort. Clearly the Temple of Isis is the highlight of visiting the island, but there is also the Temple of Hathor and the Kiosk of Trajan. The columns, hieroglyphs, and entrance were extremely impressive.
The Aswan High Dam – We grew up hearing about the construction of the Aswan dam, but there are really two dams, an older dam and the newer one, which is referred to as the High Dam. It was built to end the flooding that used to occur on a regular basis along the Nile River and has truly helped the agriculture business in Egypt. In addition to controlling the water, it is also a source of a lot of the power needed in the regions, so power lines are abundant across the surrounding desert landscape. One interesting side effect of the dam was that it has trapped all of the crocodiles for which the Nile is famous south of the dam, so you won’t see any crocodiles between Luxor and Aswan.
The Temple of Kom Ombo – On the evening of our last full day of our cruise down the Nile River, we visited the Temple of Kom Ombo. Although it was not the largest of temple complexes that we saw during our time in Egypt, it was still fascinating. The southern part of the temple is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek. Although crocodiles are not often found north of the new Aswan dam anymore, they used to prevalent in the area. There is even a Crocodile Museum at the site with crocodile mummies that are quite unique. The northern part of the temple is dedicated to the falcon god Horus and his image can be found on many of the hieroglyphs within the temple.